May I Be on Your Team? I Dunno, Why Do You Want to Be Here?

June 1, 2019

I’d like to begin this month’s lead-in with a congratulations and public thank-you to Elise Brown, the LoCo Marketing Intern for the past ~8 months. Elise just graduated from CSU with a degree in Economics with a Marketing emphasis, and has accepted a full-time position as a Digital Marketing Coordinator with AZDS Interactive Group in Denver beginning in early June. Elise has been a strongly contributing team member from the very start, and grew her skills and confidence throughout her LoCo experience. Thank you Elise - you get it, you want it, and you’re highly capable - and you’re fun to be around. You’ve got a bright future ahead, and we’re proud to have had you in our tank!  

Knowing Elise’s departure was coming, we posted our job ad for a part-time Marketing Communications Associate in early May. Though we’ve now had two great interns, this time we were hoping for someone with a bit more experience and who might be part of the team for longer. We used the Handshake system for posting at CSU/UNC, and did a free posting on Indeed and a paid posting on LinkedIn.  

It is an interesting position to fill, as I ask a lot from my candidates in a widely varied role. This includes administrative & tech support, graphic design, writing, video editing, marketing, event management responsibilities - and more. But, we’re still small, so there is not that much of any of it - we have only the need and budget for a part-timer, but hoped to add some experience to the team.  

We didn’t exactly know who we were looking for - we knew our needs, but not the needs of our potential applicants yet.  We got a lot of applications from graduating seniors and some in grad school or finishing. Several were local but also a few from UW trying to get their start in Fort Fun instead of Windy Wyoming. Also, we got several from out of state - folks from Utah, Montana, Texas and Nebraska all thought a part-time job at an interesting little business called LoCo Think Tank might get them a foothold in Colorado. We received applications from experienced marketing and communications professionals who’d left full-time work to raise a family, but wanted to increase their adult interaction time and found our mission compelling. We got applications from restaurant managers, part-time students, business coaches and digital marketing was hard to know where to start!    

I made screening phone calls to get clarity on the most important why in this conversation - why does you having this part-time role at LoCo Think Tank benefit you as much as it benefits LoCo? I learned that some of the candidates would have been settling for a part-time job, hoping it could grow into full-time and patching income needs together in the meantime. Sorry, but you probably don’t have a fit on the team - our role likely won’t grow that fast, you’ll always be looking for that next better opportunity and I don’t want to lose you so soon. Two had great experience but needed a fairly high hourly pay rate to justify child care expenditures - which I totally understand. I’m sorry, but too much of the work that we need to get done is intern-level - I just can’t squeeze in too much high-level pay. One was highly experienced in the right kinds of roles, but was also a coach and an online student and did some freelancing and...oh, my - I’m sorry but I don’t think this is going to be a fit.  

After screening through a surprisingly strong number of applicants, several rose to the top so I set up times to meet them at my office. I worked out some stock interview questions for every candidate, plus a couple of questions directed toward specific experience listed on their resume. I’m looking for confirmation of skills, personality fitment (since it’s only a two-person office that’s especially important), and especially for some discussion of their why. What are some of the specific elements of your journey that cause LoCo Think Tank to appeal to you as a place to work? Why would this role help advance the individual goals and purposes in your life? Where would you like to see your life/career playing out over the next three or five years?  

In the end, I selected a candidate whose “why” was as well-fitted as her skillset, and who is in a place in life where a part-time role in a connective and collaborative organization is viewed through the lens of opportunity rather than sacrifice. She’ll come aboard our tank in early June, and we’ll introduce her in next month’s newsletter and share a little about her who, what, & how and the why that led her to LoCo Think Tank.  

Nice story Curt, really happy for you. What’s the point?  

The point, Mr. Smarty Pants, is that too often business owners and managers look at employment as a simple transaction. You do work that I need done > I give you money. I believe this is short-sighted, and captures none of the nuance of purpose and emotion that human motivations are driven by. Better I think is to get into the why of your applicants (and your existing staff), and to find those win-win’s that contribute to durable employment relationships. To develop roles with enhanced responsibilities, and adjust roles within organizations to accommodate unique talents or interests of your crew. Work is work, and they call it that for a reason - I get it. But the work that your small business offers is a unique role within a unique organization, and will be filled by a unique individual traveling their own unique journey. If you’re in the business of hiring people who need a job, and offering them nothing but money for their time, it’s a tough go and will get tougher in the years ahead. Look always for the win-win; and help folks find their way off the bus if you see that it’s win-lose or lose-win. Do they get it, want it, and have the capacity to do the job? Or do they need a paycheck?    

- Curt Bear
Founder, LoCo Think Tank

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